Sneak Preview: GREAT Act Has Potential To Assist Small Grantees

April 27, 2018 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) Legislative officials working with the sponsors of the Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act of 2017 (H.R. 4887) recently told attendees at a forum hosted by REI Systems and the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, that the bill, if enacted, would assist all grant recipients, but would particularly prove beneficial to smaller nonfederal entities with limited budgets in managing their grants because the bill’s requirement for the use of standardized data for grant reporting would simplify grant management compliance.

Speaking at the forum were Carson Middleton, legislative director for Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and Andrew Noh, legislative director for Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.). Reps. Foxx and Gomez in February introduced the GREAT Act to “transform federal grant reporting from disconnected documents into open data” by directing the executive branch to adopt a standardized data structure for the information that award recipients must report to federal awarding agencies. The bill’s sponsors also emphasized that by replacing outdated documents with open data, the GREAT Act could offer transparency for grantmaking agencies and the public, and allow awardees to automate their reporting processes, thereby reducing burden and compliance costs.

Middleton and Noh highlighted that these lower compliance costs could especially help smaller organizations, noting that they are disproportionately affected by high compliance costs. By reducing such costs through data standardization, grant recipients can manage their awards easier. Rep. Gomez “came to this legislation as a way to help smaller, newer organizations achieve compliance costs without having to hire a whole team of compliance officers,” Noh explained. “We’re very keen on helping small businesses and small organizations achieve their goals.”

The GREAT Act would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), upon enactment, to establish within one year governmentwide data standards for information related to federal awards reported by recipients. Within two years, OMB and HHS would issue guidance to grantmaking agencies on how to leverage new technologies and implement the new data standards into existing reporting practices. Each grantmaking agency, within three years, would begin collecting grant reports using the new data standards. Essentially, the GREAT Act could do for performance reporting what the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) (Pub. L. 113-101) did for financial reporting.

Middleton admitted that the bill contains an “aggressive timeline,” but added that many much data standardization efforts are already under way as a result of the DATA Act. “Some of this work has been going on in the background, so the thinking was that we are not starting from scratch,” he said.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

As a reminder, we have all of our Federal Funding Training Forums scheduled for 2018. Please let me know if you have questions or can make any of these. We hope to see you there!

  • Wednesday May 1 – Friday May 4 in ST LOUIS

  • Wednesday July 25 – Friday July 27 in MINNEAPOLIS

  • Wednesday October 17 – Friday October 19 in ATLANTA


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